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Your lack of proper judgement and decision making skills sticks out like a thumb from reading your post

Why did you even apply if you think your MCAT is not good enough to the point where you have to retake it?

Why do you think a letter of rec will help you if the work you did is remedial work? Med schools don't give two shhits about how prestigious the lab is if you didn't even like it nor made a significant contribution.

The fact that you can't spare 10 hours a week for a huge part of your application is a point of concern.
 

Isoval

I'm marginally higher on the totem pole.
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Your lack of proper judgement and decision making skills sticks out like a thumb from reading your post

Why did you even apply if you think your MCAT is not good enough to the point where you have to retake it?

Why do you think a letter of rec will help you if the work you did is remedial work? Med schools don't give two shhits about how prestigious the lab is if you didn't even like it nor made a significant contribution.

The fact that you can't spare 10 hours a week for a huge part of your application is a point of concern.
That was...uh...unnecessarily harsh.

My opinion is that, if you’re able to fill the empty LOR slot with another equally impactful writer - and are prepared to explain to adcoms why you opted not to receive a letter from your PI -, then I think it’s a reasonable decision.

It’s worth noting that you’re probably not going to burn the bridge by leaving the lab. Many PIs will still write good letters based on the work you did while in their lab.
 
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MareNostrummm

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Oct 17, 2015
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Last year, I did a summer paid research internship after which I joined a clinical job and continued to volunteer for the same research lab I did the internship at. I volunteered on and off; I will admit that I didn't put in as much work as they were expecting...I had a lot of pressing things (MCAT and paid work) to deal with first. Also, the research work they give me is the most tedious thing I've done and is becoming very difficult to do without getting paid for.

Since that summer, they now are asking me to commit to a consistent workload per week...I expect that this will take ~10 hrs/week for me to do. However, the thing is I am also taking grad courses this term and prepping for mcat retake in Jan in case I don't get in. I am worried that this volunteering will distract me from these more important goals.

I would like to tell the supervisor that I don't have time to volunteer this term. I also can't justify doing the work that I do (it is so dull and annoying!) without getting paid. The whole reason why I stuck it out this far is because I wanted to get a good rec letter from them, since it is a fairly prestigious research institution. I am also concerned that med schools will now expect an LOR from them since it was a gap year activity.

Will it hurt me badly to quit and not send in an LOR from the well-known research gig? I am getting an LOR from my clinical gap year job if that makes any difference.
If you want more than the most tedious, boring lab work then you have to show real dedication and commitment to the research project, consistently 15+ hours a week, no excuses. You have to read the literature on your own and try to propose new ideas and try to really drive the project forward. Productive research is all about dedication, which doesn't come at inconsistent and few hours a week. Ask thoughtful questions, show you really care about the project, watch videos on youtube covering the subject matter, go to lab meetings, etc.

From what you wrote it seems like you don't care about the research at all and will instantly prioritise anything else that comes up in your life. Your PI definitely notices it and is probably really annoyed by it, hence the ultimatum of 10 hours/week. (experience: I volunteered in a lab for 3 months doing grunt work/tedious stuff, was very productive, now I'm getting paid with grant money and I have my own project. My PI complains about premeds just trying to get a rec letter or check a box all the time.)
 
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mariposas905

mariposas905

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If you want more than the most tedious, boring lab work then you have to show real dedication and commitment to the research project, consistently 15+ hours a week, no excuses. You have to read the literature on your own and try to propose new ideas and try to really drive the project forward. Productive research is all about dedication, which doesn't come at inconsistent and few hours a week. Ask thoughtful questions, show you really care about the project, watch videos on youtube covering the subject matter, go to lab meetings, etc.

From what you wrote it seems like you don't care about the research at all and will instantly prioritise anything else that comes up in your life. Your PI definitely notices it and is probably really annoyed by it, hence the ultimatum of 10 hours/week. (experience: I volunteered in a lab for 3 months doing grunt work/tedious stuff, was very productive, now I'm getting paid with grant money and I have my own project. My PI complains about premeds just trying to get a rec letter or check a box all the time.)
I would like to devote this time, and the project in theory is an exciting topic. I don't think I am the only one they gave the tedious work to...the post bacc students who are paid to work there full-time are also doing the same thing because that seems to be my PI's need right now. It's just that 10 hrs/week of doing that work without getting paid is hard, especially when I have pressing commitments (MCAT and school).

Anyway, while I would ideally like to put in the time, I don't see how it will be possible. My classes take up about 8-12 hrs/week, my part-time work takes 10 hrs, and another commitment I can't forgo takes ~20 hrs/week up until mid-November. I want to study for the MCAT at least 3 hrs/day from now till Dec 20th and then, study 6-8 hrs/day the month leading up to the Jan test. That is about a 50 hr workweek right there and I don't know how to commit to the 10 hrs/week of volunteer research. It used to be 4 before, which I was okay with, but the workload increase is making me hesitate. Don't they always say MCAT comes first? I would hate to get a worse or slightly better score on my retake :(

Anyway, perhaps I should have framed my question better. I just wanted to know how not having the rec letter from this research lab would affect me and what I can do to make up for that. If it helps, I do have two good research LORs from two other PIs I worked with earlier in my undergrad years. But will not having an LOR from my more recent gap year research work hurt me?


Your lack of proper judgement and decision making skills sticks out like a thumb from reading your post

Why did you even apply if you think your MCAT is not good enough to the point where you have to retake it?

Why do you think a letter of rec will help you if the work you did is remedial work? Med schools don't give two shhits about how prestigious the lab is if you didn't even like it nor made a significant contribution.

The fact that you can't spare 10 hours a week for a huge part of your application is a point of concern.
I didn't apply to it...it was something I had already been doing this past year. I am thinking of quitting the volunteering this semester due to my time constraints with classes and MCAT. I plan to tell them that I'm happy to follow up later in the year after these are done. I figure since I am retaking a borderline score, I absolutely must do better on the next test. I don't mind rejoining the lab again in February, but things might change by then so I do not want to make false promises to the lab now. Regarding why I'm hesitating on the 10 hrs/week, please see the above reply.
 

wysdoc

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Last year, I did a summer paid research internship after which I joined a clinical job and continued to volunteer for the same research lab I did the internship at. I volunteered on and off; I will admit that I didn't put in as much work as they were expecting...I had a lot of pressing things (MCAT and paid work) to deal with first. Also, the research work they give me is the most tedious thing I've done and is becoming very difficult to do without getting paid for.

Since that summer, they now are asking me to commit to a consistent workload per week...I expect that this will take ~10 hrs/week for me to do. However, the thing is I am also taking grad courses this term and prepping for mcat retake in Jan in case I don't get in. I am worried that this volunteering will distract me from these more important goals.

I would like to tell the supervisor that I don't have time to volunteer this term. I also can't justify doing the work that I do (it is so dull and annoying!) without getting paid. The whole reason why I stuck it out this far is because I wanted to get a good rec letter from them, since it is a fairly prestigious research institution. I am also concerned that med schools will now expect an LOR from them since it was a gap year activity.

Will it hurt me badly to quit and not send in an LOR from the well-known research gig? I am getting an LOR from my clinical gap year job if that makes any difference.
I think it is clear you did not show a good work ethic in this lab, and are not willing to change, so I think it is best if you tell them you are not able to devote the amount of time they are asking for and fade away. Don't give any parting shots like "it was so boring". Don't offer to come back since you are not interested. They would rather have someone enthusiastic.
 

wysdoc

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I agree that I should have worked harder. It's not that I'm not willing to change, but I don't know how to fit those 10 hrs/week consistently in my schedule. My other commitments are already taking up ~50 hrs/week of my time. I feel it would be worse to commit now to the volunteering and then not be able to push through it because of MCAT or my course load.

How would you suggest explaining to medical schools about the lack of this LOR? I have still worked there around 400 hrs during my gap year and I wouldn't want to write it completely off my app.
Just list the hours. You probably have letters from academic profs. Any letter you get from your lab supervisor I suspect would not be a strong one and might be critical of you.
 
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